In the corner of Cottage Grove Park sits something special. People walking briskly by might not notice the markings for the Recovery Garden. It’s a little oasis lined with inspirational quotes on bricks. And, stamped in the center is a Labyrinth maze for those who need a little walking meditation.
Working in the garden is Tasha Mosher. She is a dedicated volunteer who wants to keep the garden restored to it’s intended beauty…
I asked Tasha how the project started…
It was a neglected space that was supposed to honor the struggle of people who have histories of substance abuse and are taking a step in the right direction. And, I would find usually liquor bottles when I would walk through the neighborhood. And so, it has grown from there, partnering with different organizations and community groups to pull back the weeds. We have shown how this park can be a beautiful space. And it’s quite an unexpected little sanctuary here in Delridge.
It started in Spring of 2011, after my friend Christopher had a reoccurrence of lung cancer. I had already offered all of my condolences to him when he first started struggling with cancer; so, I was feeling hopeless about things and I thought, okay, I have to go out and do something – I have got to get my hands in the soil. Christopher started a safe house to help kids who battled substance abuse to get into programs to help them get off the street. He changed people’s lives. And I decided to do something concrete that would make me feel much better than sitting there feeling sadness over someone else’s illness that was pulling him away from this wonderful work that he did. And from that came this project.
Every time I sat down and started pulling weeds, having one to one conversations with people, I realized there was something tremendously therapeutic about it. There was the community building for sure, but more of it was just relating to people knowing that no matter what happens in our lives, what sort of pain we go through, that we can still relate to one another on a one to one basis. It has always been important to me to include people that are in recovery, or are in a stage where they are addressing their current or past substance abuse. It really gives the park some soul, that the healing of the space comes from restoration of the people who are restoring themselves.
We started partnering with the Perinatal Treatment Services which is a substance treatment program for young mother’s in recovery. We would get everything from 1-6 women come out with their children. The babies would be in the shade, and the mom’s would pull weeds around the garden.
This is our first project working with the Cottage Grove staff and residents.
As Tim was pulling weeds, I asked him why he was volunteering…
I live in another neighborhood, but work here in the Cottage Grove Commons. I think the opportunity to work in the recovery garden is a perfect opportunity. I hope it can be a regular part of our programs and outings. Finding meaningful activities for the people that move here, most of the folks have been living on the streets and suddenly they have housing and have excess time, and giving back to their community is the best kind of work to be doing.